In late 2015, MBombay Tobac released the Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka, a 6 1/2 x 46 corona extra named after owner Mel Shah’s wife. It used a modified version of the blend of its Kēsara line, adding some Peruvian tobacco to the already existing Dominican tobacco in the filler, although it kept the same an Ecuadorian Havana binder and Ecuadorian Connecticut des florado 2002 wrapper.

In addition, there were two other changes in the Vintage Reserve Nikka compared to the normal Kēsara blend: the new version incorporated tobaccos that were aged for and additional three compared to the regular Kēsara line, and these specific cigars are aged in a hybrid sandalwood and Spanish cedar coffin for up to nine months before being packaged.

And speaking of the packaging, that too was noticeably different: while the regular Kēsara line is sold in standard boxes of 20, the Vintage Reserve Nikka came packaged in tubes of 10 with an MSRP of $12 each and a limit of 2,500 cigars produced a year.

Here is what I said in my original review a little more than a year ago:

I have always enjoyed the Kēsara line for what it is: a lower strength, full flavored blend. However, I have always wanted to try a smaller ring gauge, and the MBombay Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka delivers exactly what I was looking for, amping up both the flavors and the distinctness of the notes that are present. Construction was excellent for all samples, and the smoke production was quite copious as well. The apricot sweetness that is present in the blend is as unique as it is enjoyable, and I found myself looking forward to smoking another sample just to see if it would be there. A very nice cigar, and a nice addition to the Kēsara line.

As with the first samples I smoked, the MBombay Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka is covered in a golden brown wrapper that has just a bit of tooth to it and features the same small pigtail and covered foot. While there is a touch of oil noticeable, it only shows up in certain light, and the cigar is a bit spongier than I remember the first time around. Aroma from the wrapper is a combination of strong nuts, manure, hay, leather and earth, while the cold draw brings flavors of citrus, dark chocolate, creamy almonds, leather, hay, earth, oak and espresso beans.

The MBombay Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka starts out much like I remember from the first samples, with dominant notes of creamy almonds and leather, along with lesser flavors of hay, espresso beans, cedar and a touch of floral. Unlike the first time around, there is no vanilla sweetness up front, replaced by a much stronger apricot sweetness that is definitely a major part of the profile and combines very nicely with some white pepper on the retrohale that remains consistent throughout the smoke. The second third continues the trend of creamy almonds and sweet apricot, but the white pepper on the retrohale is receding quite a bit as the cigar burns down, replaced by a slightly stronger spice on my tongue. In addition, the profile has added some great orange citrus as well as an interesting grass flavor on the finish that continues to be noticeable until the end of the cigar.


Construction-wise, the Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka is excellent in all regards, with a draw that gives me just the right amount of resistance for the entire smoke and a burn that remains pretty close to razor sharp other than a point very close to the end of the cigar when I had to touch it up to avoid it getting out of control. In addition, the smoke production is well above average during the one hour and 20 minute smoking time, while the strength started out mild but managed to make it to a point very close to medium before I put the nub down with less than an inch to go.

92 Overall Score

This is one of those cigars I put away immediately after reviewing it to do a redux review on, hoping that it would get ever better than the first time and I was not disappointed. While the profile of the MBombay Kēsara Vintage Reserve Nikka remains quite similar to the first review, with a dominant combination of creamy almonds and hay that was really quite distinct. However, the major change is in the strength of the apricot sweetness, which went from almost an afterthought in the first review to a major player in the profile a year later. In addition, the construction was excellent in all regards and the strength was very well integrated, ending up being just shy of the medium mark. A great cigar that I am going to wish I had more of in the future.

Original Score (December 2015)
Redux Score (January 2017(
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Brooks Whittington

I have been smoking cigars for over eight years. A documentary wedding photographer by trade, I spent seven years as a photojournalist for the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star Telegram. I started the cigar blog SmokingStogie in 2008 after realizing that there was a need for a cigar blog with better photographs and more in-depth information about each release. SmokingStogie quickly became one of the more influential cigar blogs on the internet, known for reviewing preproduction, prerelease, rare, extremely hard-to-find and expensive cigars. I am a co-founder of halfwheel and now serve as an editor for halfwheel.